Safety isn't just an idea at Warren Transport Inc., it’s a culture. The company’s emphasis on safety is a big reason it has been in business for more than six decades. And it shows. Literally.
Awards cover all four walls in a basement room at Warren Headquarters in Waterloo, Iowa. From top to bottom gold, silver and bronze radiate, each award exemplifying the company’s commitment to safety.
Warren has earned fourth place or higher, with many first or second place finishes, in the American Trucking Associations, or ATA, National Truck Safety Contest for eighteen of the last nineteen years.
“We have a huge, great reputation across the nation with all the states, with all of the motor carrier associations for our safe driving,” Warren Director of Maintenance and Inventory Corey Vesely said.
Warren Transport is a trucking company that is celebrating more than 65 years in business. It has two divisions – van and flatbed. The company is known across North America as one of the top carriers for heavy, farm machinery.
Warren is 100-percent owner-operator, meaning people are contracted to drive trucks they individually own. Warren does not own the trucks. That owner-operator business model is enticing to many veteran truck drivers because they get to be their own boss while still enjoying some fleet benefits.
For that reason, Warren can be picky about who it contracts to drive, opting to hire experienced drivers who value a similar safety philosophy.
“Our driver qualification department will do a very good vetting process,” Warren Director of Safety Ben Caughron explained. That process includes a background check, criminal history and running the applicant’s Motor Vehicle Reports, or MVR.
The company also completes a ten year employment check and inspects the overall application for accuracy. “They come in here experienced, they’re not brand new. They know what they are doing,” Caughron said.
The company makes a point to emphasize driver qualification, safety meetings, training sessions, safety awareness programs as well as scheduled inspections and maintenance for trucks and trailers. Part of that responsibility means understanding and abiding by federal and state safety regulations, including the federal program CSA, or Compliance, Safety, Accountability.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CSA quantifies each driver and carrier’s on-road safety performance. It provides a safety score calculated by data derived from roadside inspections, safety based violations and state reported crashes. Performance in other federal safety programs is also considered.
“We have a huge, obvious thing with CSA now, DOT compliance and what safety regulations are out there now because that’s all changed and evolved in the last five to eight years,” Vesely explained. “It’s just getting more and more important and there is a huge, huge push for safety of these vehicles.”
It can be challenging to stay privy on state and federal regulations. That’s why the company offers Warren Technical Institute, an internet based continuing education portal. “It’s like an online classroom so to speak,” Caughron explained. “Every one of our drivers and employees has access to that either through PC, the iPad, and your smartphone.”
Interestingly enough – Warren Transport cannot force any of its contracted drivers to participate in safety training because of its owner-operator business model. However, there are some monetary incentives for clean inspections and safe driving records, but most drivers chose to participate and make it a priority on their own. “A lot of them don’t want to ruin their business or have any hiccups in their business so their goal is to remain safe,” Caughron said.
The company culture also helps to promote and maintain safe driving. Warren's mission statement spells out that safety is always the top priority. “We instill in them (the drivers) no matter what safety comes first. Everything else is secondary because we want you to get home safely and to your family,” Caughron said. “No load is more important that the health of you and the motoring public.”